Paula Kaempffer

Director of Learning
Learning

Paula joined The Basilica of Saint Mary staff in 2007 and has been involved in Catholic Church ministry for over 35 years. She has a B.S. in Elementary Education and an M.A. in Religious Education from St. Joseph’s Seminary in New York. As the Director of Learning, she works with the educational programming for adults of the parish and oversees The Basilica’s RCIA process and the Catholics Coming Home program, while overseeing the Learning Department which ministers to the children, youth and young adults in our parish and all those preparing for sacraments. 

Paula Kaempffer
(612) 317-3473

Recent Posts by Paula Kaempffer

Expectations. We all have them. We have expectations that the stock market will be stable, that so-and-so will understand what your needs are, that someone will behave in a certain way, that another will keep their word, that your job will be there tomorrow, or that there will even be a tomorrow. It seems that expectations are a part of our everyday lives. They seem to be the lens through which we all operate.

But what comes with expectations—especially high expectations—can be grave disappointment, resentment, hurt, anger, fear and hopelessness. Each of us knows this from experience. I remember many times when someone I trusted promised me something and didn't come through with it. I also remember when someone I respected and cared about betrayed me in some way.  These experiences are very difficult to overcome, to try to work through, and, especially, to forgive, if at all. Within myself, it is a struggle between my ego and my conscience. It is also a struggle managing all the feelings and emotions that go with it. I can run the whole gamut of emotions within a matter of seconds. But most of the time I am able to settle down after a couple of hours or a day or two. And then I pray that I have the willingness to respond in a way that is respectful of my integrity and values.

What do we do with the person or persons who have disappointed us? Do we move on from that relationship because it is unhealthy? Do we choose not to forgive? Do we approach them with love and understanding for their shortcomings? Can we forgive them? 

But what happens when the persons who have betrayed us are connected to our church and our faith? The sense of loss and betrayal is much deeper. How do we ever recover from it? Where is God in all of this mess? Can our faith ever be the same?

I believe that for most of us, our faith is extremely strong. When you come to church, look around at all those people who have stuck with it despite the ugliness of what happened to thousands of innocent people. Maybe it is because the people realized that they are the church and that their church will continue and come through this crisis and be stronger for it. Many of us realize that our Catholic faith will always be there for us and our community as well. We are all in this together and together we can support each other through listening, caring, and loving each other. And we can pray not only for the victims, but for those of us who could not stick with it because the hurt was so deep. I think we can all understand those who have left. They need our love and prayers as much as the victims do because they also are victims, as we all are.
During the first four Sundays in November, we will have panel discussions and speakers on Responding to Abuse. During these panels, we will hear about all types of abuse, the effect of abuse on the human person, how to remove yourself from abusive situations, resources that are available for victims and families, and how to find spiritual recovery from trauma and abuse. This series will be widely advertised throughout our Archdiocese. If you or someone you know could benefit from this, please spread the word. Flyers will be available throughout the church. Please pick one up and pass it along.

 

Keeping faith a priority

Well, here we are…Labor Day weekend, the un-official end to the summer season. One last weekend to enjoy the cabin and boat, cross those last items off on the school supply list, help your college student get moved into his or her dorm, do some fall gardening, pull out the Vikings (or Packers!) gear and begin to dig out the sweaters and rakes in anticipation of the leaves that will begin to fall. 


At The Basilica of Saint Mary, the end of summer means lots of preparation for fall programs. Our RCIA process began this past week on September 1. The inquirers along with their sponsors and the RCIA team will meet weekly until after Easter. Our children and youth will be back to programs in a few weeks. (Parents—there is still time to register if you have not already done so.) The fall will see preparation for First Reconciliation, along with the beginning of Confirmation preparation for our youth. The Rock Solid Marriage Team will begin a marriage enrichment series. The Basilica Young Adults (BYA) will continue with their educational, social, and service opportunities—Sunday Night Live, making sandwiches and a fall retreat. We also have a diverse and interesting line up of adult learning program opportunities available this year, many of our programs focusing on the Year of Mercy that begins in the new liturgical year. (Please see www.mary.org or the fliers at the back of church to learn more.


In our homes, autumn may mean a busier lifestyle…more school commitments, more practices and rehearsals, more volunteer commitments, more meetings. fall just seems to be the time of year when we hit the ground running, full speed ahead. At this time of year it is easy to take on a lot, after all, we are all re-energized and rejuvenated after our wonderfully relaxing summers, right? 


While we look ahead to fall, it is so important that we make our faith lives a priority in the midst of everything else that is going on in our lives. There are so many fulfilling ways to accomplish this goal and deepen our faith lives this season. Keep your preferred weekend Mass time sacred—consider Mass to be a firm commitment each weekend. Participate in hospitality following Mass to meet others within our parish community. Carve out time for morning or evening prayer, in solitude or with your spouse or family. Consider what talents you might share with your parish in a volunteer capacity. Commit to signing up for one (or more!) adult learning opportunities offered at the parish this program year. Take time to listen to God…where or how are you being called to deepen your faith? However you are called, listen! Listen and commit! 


Wishing you a happy, productive, and faith-filled season filled with many blessings. We hope to see you next weekend at our Basilica Parish Picnic!

 

 

Not expecting it to be so, this summer has been all over the map with regards to events taking place one after another. It felt like there was breaking news every other day around weather issues throughout the country, terrorist attacks around the world, the ramping up of the upcoming election year, and then there has been so much happening in our worldwide church as well as in our local church. Often I felt myself wanting to withdraw from the ugliness of the news, to crawl back into my personal space or run away to a desert island without any technology whatsoever. To disengage from everyone and everything around me would have been a luxury. 

I found myself fighting off depression and hopelessness some days. And some days I cried out to God, “What is happening in YOUR world?” And God turned right around and asked, “What is happening in YOURS?”

A friend and I had a conversation the other evening about how difficult life can be, wondering how to maneuver through it gracefully, tactfully, and with hope and faith. She stated that the world is very dark and, without faith and hope, the darkness remains. She was lamenting the fact that her growth in spirituality and Christian action was too slow as far as she was concerned. She wondered if she would ever “get it.” I hated to admit it but I, too, have wondered that myself many times. I would like the path to holiness to be straight and on target but that is so not the case. Many twists and turns have always been in the way, or so it seemed. 

It has taken me many years to appreciate all those things that have sidetracked me on my journey. To realize that those very things are the journey itself. Every experience, every person, every event has become my life. They have all come together to help create the person I am today. It is my story and it is unique. Just as yours is. And only by God’s intimate grace, have I come to know God in my story and recognized God in your stories as well. That’s how it works. We live out our story and become immersed in everyone else’s story. And that’s where we find God…in each other’s stories. 

So, to reflect on God’s question to me, “What is happening in Yours?” puts a new spin on this situation. In other words, what am I doing about the poverty, oppression, tragedies, hopelessness, and faithlessness around me? How am I bringing God into our world to make a difference? What have I done for the ones who are in need around me? Was I present to each and every person I met this day? Did I live well today? How have I detached from this world and all its false idols? Do I have any regrets about my day? What would I do differently and better the next time? Have I been selfless today? Have I died to self in some small way today? 

There is a quotation I found somewhere a while back. I wish I could give credit to someone for it but I am not sure who is the author.  “Live in such a way that those who know you, but don't know God, will come to know God because they know you.”

I found this quotation to be very profound and a definite call in my own life. The truth is I cannot live like this on my own. It is only through the Holy Spirit that I am able to try to achieve this. But I have seen God do powerful things with or without me. It does go smoother, I think, if I cooperate with God’s grace. But knowing myself, I don’t always go with the flow. And God knows that about me too. I am grateful that God is patient and understanding because I am a slow learner.

So we come upon another year of beginnings as we move into the season of dying and death—Fall. The season that is so necessary before we can ever get to resurrection. This challenge lies before all of us to live with a difference for others who need God so desperately in our world today. 

 

Today as we approach the Triduum and Easter, we begin the holiest of weeks in our church and in our Catholic tradition. The Paschal Mystery is central to our beliefs as we celebrate the passion, the death and the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Being the youngest of 12 children and growing up in New York City, it was a very big deal for our Catholic family to spend lots of time in Church. And one of the customs was to journey to as many churches as we could between Holy Thursday and Good Friday. It is a dear memory of those times when my mother took my siblings and me on many bus rides throughout the city visiting various Catholic churches. We would spend time in prayer and appreciate the beauty of each unique church. This tradition instilled in me a deep sense of being in touch with what had happened in Jesus’ life during his last days on earth. 

Today this memory brings me back to the importance Jesus’ life and death has in my life today. I once heard a speaker say that by the time Jesus got to the cross, there was nothing left of him to give…he had already given his all for us during his life. And Jesus asks us today to live in that same way—giving what we can to live our lives following in the example of Jesus.

Jesus and what he stood for, what he preached and taught, and how he treated all the people in his life, is the example of total love and mercy—this total love and mercy about which Pope Francis speaks so often. Jesus became a threat to the powers that were in place in the government and in the synagogue. His message was so contrary to what they believed and what they had been taught. “Love your enemies”…that was such a foreign concept to them. “Love the poor and outcast”…that, too, didn’t make sense to them. But Jesus was gaining momentum and people were beginning to listen to him. This made them very nervous and suspicious of Jesus. But they didn’t stop Jesus from continuing to share with them his Father’s love for them—though eventually he was crucified for speaking out these beliefs and teachings that remain central to human dignity and compassion today. 

I often wonder what side I would have been on if I had lived during Jesus’ time. This Holy Week, take some time to consider this question yourself…what would you have done had you lived 2000 years ago and been faced with this decision? We do know that the way Jesus lived his life affected the whole world and still does. 

But the important truth we face today is that we are faced with these questions every day—what will we do today when we are faced with decisions that challenge our faith lives and push us to greater lengths in loving all people? What will we do with that and other ethical questions that arise in our work lives, at home, and in our communities?  

If we can but take his simple example of always speaking the truth and doing the most loving actions possible, then we can believe that his Spirit will always be with us and enable us to live a life like Jesus lived. We have that promise through Jesus’ own resurrection. And through our own baptism, we know that we are called to live a life that will make a difference and maybe change the world.

 

Lent evolved out of the preparation for baptism. Those preparing for baptism were known as catechumens. This word comes from the Greek word which means “to instruct.” A catechumen spent several years preparing for baptism. A sponsor walked this journey with them and helped them to transform their lifestyle to become more like Christ. Catechumens attended Liturgy of the Word with the rest of the Christian community, but when it came time to share the meal, they were “dismissed” because they were not yet members of the community through baptism. 

Many of you may have observed this “dismissal” of our own catechumens at the 9:30am Mass. Following the homily, the presider calls them forward to send them forth to “Break Open the Word” together. A facilitator accompanies them to another room as the Liturgy of the Word is continued with them. They listen to the Gospel proclaimed again and enter into a sharing of faith around the gospel, which concludes with intercessory prayer. This experience of “Breaking Open the Word” is both powerful and deep. To listen to our catechumens, many of whom have never been immersed in the Gospels, share their insights and how they believe God is calling them to live, is nothing less than inspiring.

Our RCIA class is made up of several groups. Our catechumens who have never been baptized, our candidates for Full Communion in the Catholic Church who have been baptized in another faith tradition, and the candidates for Confirmation who have been baptized Catholic but not raised in any faith tradition. There is also a sponsor who journeys with each of them and attends all the sessions, retreats and rituals. Lastly, we have a dozen team members. Each Tuesday, we have 70-80 people at The Basilica as a part of this process.

Like our ancestors, our catechumens and candidates have completed a substantial period of formation and are now being asked to discern if they are responding to God’s call in their desire to seek initiation in the Catholic Church. We have shared the beauty, truth and wisdom of that which we profess in the creed with them and now they must listen in their hearts for the voice of God.

This weekend they spent time together on a retreat which culminated at the 5:00pm Mass where they celebrated the Rite of Sending. We accept and applaud their courage and conviction and send them to our Bishop with our affirmation of their sincerity. Our presider will invite them to sign the Book of the Elect as a symbol of our support and love for them. 

Our community then sends them forth to the Bishop for the Rite of Election to be celebrated on Sunday at 1:30pm at The Basilica. All the catechumens and candidates from the Archdiocese gather together, half at the Cathedral and half at The Basilica, to celebrate the Rite of Election. Bishop Lee Piche, in the name of the entire Church, will accept the catechumens and those seeking full communion with us and exhort them to continue and intensify their journey of conversion in preparation for their reception into the Church at Easter.

And, like our ancestors, the “Elect” will now enter the period of prayer and purification for the Easter sacraments which we call Lent.

Your role in the process of initiation is essential. Your acceptance by your involvement and attention to the rites has had a significant impact upon them; they have shared how deeply moved they feel by your support. We ask that you keep them in your prayers. At the doors of the church are cards with their photos and names on them. Please take one or more and pray for them. You also can communicate with them by writing them a note of encouragement and placing it in the collection basket with their name on it noting “RCIA.” 

We are so blessed to be experiencing so many who want to join our faith because they have witnessed the way you live it out in your own lives. Thank you for being such a credible witness of God’s love for us all.

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